Ferrari's first F1 winner dies aged 90

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Argentinian F1 legend José Froilan González died last Saturday in a Buenos Aires hospital.

Nicknamed ‘the Pampas Bull’ thanks to his large frame, González was known as Pepe to his friends.

From the off he was a keen sportsman enjoying football, tennis, swimming and cycling, before he moved on to motorcycles and cars.

He first made his mark on motor sport in 1949 at the wheel of a four-cylinder Maserati that was found for him by countryman Juan Manuel Fangio.

By 1950 he had moved to Europe, taking second place in the Albi GP.

González’s real success came the following year when, as a works driver in a Ferrari 166, he defeated a trio of W163 Mercedes-Benzs in both the Formula Libre races in Buenos Aires.

That same year, he claimed the scalps of the works Alfa Romeos in the British GP at Silverstone, becoming the first driver to win a World Championship GP for the Scuderia.

By 1952, Pepe had moved to Maserati, but he would race in only one GP for his new team. That year he also took the Goodwood Trophy in a BRM V16 and the Richmond Trophy in the Vanwall team’s Thinwall Special Ferrari.  

An accident in ’53 would leave him sidelined for three months, with a fractured vertebra, before he moved back to Ferrari the following year.

His most successful year was 1954, though, as he guided his Ferrari to another championship win at the British GP, as well as a non-title win at the International Trophy, plus victories in the Bari and Bordeaux GPs.

The same season would also bring him four wins in sports cars, including at Le Mans where he shared a Ferrari 375 Plus with Maurice Trintignant.

González took second place at his home race in ’55 and return to Silverstone in 1956, where he suffered race-ending driveshaft failure, before effectively retiring from motor sport’s top flight after the Argentinian GP in 1960.

The Pampas Bull is survived by his wife, Elena.

Comments

Alec E Daly

Froilán Gonzalez is not only remembered locally for his great international racing results, but also for his very important contributions to Car Racing in Argentina.
He fostered single-seater races when he returned to Argentina, with competions also in Brazil & Uruguay.
Once Frolián finely retired, he played a key role in "Turismo Carretera" category, where he entered a Chevy Nova completely revolutionized teh very popular category, till then still dominated by old Ford & Chevrolet Coupes of the '30's
And in his amiable, friendly manner, Froilán Gonzalez was always willing to support the Argentine Classic & Historical movement.
A great loss in many ways.....

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